Before the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, the Play Fair at the Olympics Campaign – the biggest international worker rights mobilization of its kind ever undertaken – brought the world’s attention to the underside of the sportswear industry: the abysmal working conditions endured by the young women and men, and children, who make the shoes, jerseys, footballs and other items in contract factories and subcontract facilities around the world.
In anticipation of the Beijing Summer Olympics, in the spring of 2008 MSN wrote a paper for the Play Fair Campaign entitled “Clearing the Hurdles: Steps to Improving Wages and Working Conditions in the Global Sportswear Industry.” The paper found that substantial violations of worker rights were still the norm for workers in the sportswear industry.
Clearing the Hurdles identifies four central hurdles that need to be overcome by the sportswear industry to make real progress on the litany of worker rights violations plaguing the industry.
Read more, below, about how MSN and its allies are challenging sportswear brands to overcome these hurdles:
Workers locked out of the Rio Tinto Alcan smelter in Alma, Quebec since last December have filed a complaint calling on the organizers of the London Olympic Games (LOCOG) to drop the resource firm as an official Games supplier of gold, silver and bronze for athletes' medals.
The Play Fair at the Olympics campaign has published a new report detailing systematic and widespread exploitation of workers in 10 sportswear factories in China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines producing sportswear for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Following the discovery of worker rights violations in two Chinese factories producing Olympic-branded merchandise, organizers for the London 2012 Olympic Games stepped up their efforts to eliminate worker rights abuses in factories making Olympic-brand products - including becoming the first Olympic Games to disclose the factories where Olympic goods are made. Although abuses continue to be uncovered, this is a step forward for Olympics organizing bodies.
With the FIFA World Cup in South Africa just days away, the soccer world's leading organization is being asked to take a closer look at the dismal realities faced by soccer ball stitchers. Workers stitching soccer balls in Pakistan, India, China and Thailand continue to experience alarming labour rights violations, including child labour, non-payment of the minimum wage and extensive use of temporary labourers.
In the run-up to the February Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, an international coalition of worker rights organizations is releasing its rating of commitments made by major sportswear brands to eliminate sweatshop abuses in their global supply chains. The ratings are being released on the newly launched Clearing the Hurdles website.
A sportswear working group involving the Maquila Solidarity Network, the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers Federation, the Clean Clothes Campaign and the International Trade Union Confederation has set out steps sportswear brands need to take to begin to overcome four hurdles that have hindered progress on worker rights in the industry.
As the clock ticks down to the Beijing Olympics, international sportswear companies are amassing huge profits and arranging multi-million dollar sponsorship deals with the Games, Olympic athletes and national teams.
Meanwhile, workers producing their goods are still living in poverty. In a new report, “Clearing the Hurdles: Steps to improving working conditions in the global sportswear industry”, Play Fair 2008 calls upon brands, manufacturers, and multi-stakeholder initiatives to overcome four major hurdles to make real, measurable progress on wages and working conditions in the global sportswear industry.